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Joseph J. DioGuardi (born September 20, 1940, The Bronx, New Yorkmarker) is an Americanmarker accountant and politician of Arbëreshë (Albanian Italian) descent. from New Yorkmarker. He previously served in the House of Representatives representing the 20th congressional district of New York from 1985 to 1989.. DioGuardi is the president of the Albanian American Civic League.

He is a member of the Republican party, and has frequently launched unsuccessful attempts to regain a seat in Congress. As recently as June 2007, his name was mentioned as a possible candidate for congress in the 19th district of New York seeking to face freshman incumbent John Hall in the 2008 general election.

DioGuardi is the father of American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.

Early background

The DioGuardi family immigrated to the United States from Grecimarker, in the Campania region of southern Italymarker; his father's family was part of the Arbëreshë (Albanian Italian) minority there. Along with his parents, brother and sister, Joseph J. DioGuardi moved to Westchester Countymarker in 1957. He is a 1958 graduate of Fordham Preparatory Schoolmarker, and in 1962 he graduated with honors from Fordham Universitymarker. DioGuardi served for twenty-two years, twelve of them as a tax partner, with the international accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. He is the author of Unaccountable Congress: It Doesn't Add Up.

He and his first wife, Carol Asselta, had two children, John (born October 15, 1973) and Kara (born December 9, 1970). John is a substance abuse counselor and social worker with Phoenix House. Kara is a songwriter, record producer, and singer, recently named as the fourth judge added to American Idol's 2008-2009 season. Carol died of ovarian cancer in 1997.

DioGuardi married his second wife, Shirley Cloyes, on June 28, 1998. She is the Balkan Affairs Advisor to (and co-founder of) the Albanian American Civic League. The DioGuardis reside in Ossining, New York.

Political career and background

In November 1984, he was elected to Congress, when he became the first practicing certified public accountant ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 1986, and served in Congress in 1985-89.

Congressional career

In Congress, DioGuardi authored the Chief Financial Officer's Act which mandated the assignment of a CFO to each major department and agency of the U.S. government. A later version was passed by Congress and into law signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, two years after DioGuardi left office. In 1986, with the late Democratic Congressman Mickey Leland, DioGuardi initiated legislation to confer the Medal of Honor on Black World War I and World War II military heroes. DioGuardi was defeated for re-election in 1988 by liberal activist Nita Lowey.

In the years that followed, DioGuardi made a series of failed campaigns to return to Congress. DioGuardi won the Republican primary in 1992 but then lost in the general election. He performed even worse in later races, losing Republican primaries for Congress in 1994 and 1996. After losing the 1994 GOP primary, DioGuardi continued his campaign for the seat as the nominee of the Conservative Party and the Right-to-Life Party, receiving 11% of the vote against Republican Sue Kelly and Democrat Hamilton Fish V. In 1996, DioGuardi also lost the Conservative Party primary for Congress. He was the unsuccessful Right-to-Life Party nominee for Congress in 1996 and 1998. He briefly flirted with running again in 2000, but decided against entering the race.

Later work

Since leaving Congress in 1989, DioGuardi has established a nonpartisan foundation called Truth In Government, which advocates federal fiscal reforms.

DioGuardi is an advocate for the Kosovan Albanians. After leaving Congress in 1989, he has made fifteen trips to the region. As president of the Albanian American Civic League, he and Congressman Tom Lantos made the first official trip to Albaniamarker in fifty years, and he helped open the doors to democracy in this former Communist dictatorship. In August 1990, DioGuardi persuaded Bob Dole and six other U.S. Senators to visit the two million Albanians in Kosovomarker. In September 1996, he returned to Albania with Congressman Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the Committee on International Relations, to meet with President Sali Berisha to discuss Albanian national security and minority rights for the ethnic Greeks in southern Albania. In June 1997, DioGuardi led a delegation to monitor the national elections in Albania and in August 1998 he traveled to northern Albania to assess the humanitarian crisis emanating from the war in Kosovo, at the request of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. In March 2007, he traveled with his wife, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, to The Haguemarker in support of Ramush Haradinaj as his war crimes trial began at the International Criminal Court.

DioGuardi is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including investiture as a Knight of Malta in 1979, the International Humanitarian Award in 1986, the Outstanding CPA in Government Award from the New York State Society of CPAs in 1986, the Torch of Liberty Award from the New York State Conservative Party in 1987, the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Westchester Countymarker Republican Committee in 1987, the Westchester Irish Committee's Dedication to Peace and Justice Award in 1988, the Paul Harris Fellow Award of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary Internationalmarker in 1988, and the Annual Achievement Award of the Association of Government Accountants (Boston Chapter) in 1992.

Congressional campaign, 2008

In December 2006, DioGuardi expressed an interest in running for Congress in 2008 against the newly-elected Democratic Congressman John Hall ( Office of the Clerk, US House). Westchester County Legislator George Oros and Iraq Veteran and Peekskill resident Kieran Lalor also declared their intention to challenge Hall in 2008. On May 22, 2008, Republican delegates from each of the five counties represented in the 19th district met in Mahopac, New Yorkmarker to endorse a candidate, and chose Lalor, with 347 votes going to the Iraq veteran, 311 going to Oros, and 102 going to DioGuardi.


  2. DioGuardi, Joseph J. “Ending the Credit Card Mentality in Congress: A Guide to Achieving Fiscal Discipline.” In A House of Ill Repute, edited by Dan Renberg, 26-32. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.
  4. MTV News, Aug 26 2008, Paula Abdul Changes Her Tune, Says 'It's About Time Another Girl Joined' Her On 'American Idol': Abdul said Monday she was 'concerned' about new judge Kara DioGuardi, By Jocelyn Vena
  5. " It’s Lalor against Hall in the 19th Congressional District". Mid-Hudson News. May 23, 2008.

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